Students protest removals

Students protested the possible removal of some journalism and graphic professors of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communications Tuesday afternoon. 

While organizers were outside, faculty and Florida A&M University Provost Cynthia Hughes-Harris met inside the building to discuss the state of 10 professors who were not in compliance with Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The faculty members did not have master’s degrees.

Concerned students assembled in all black and held signs that read, “What about the students, we have skills, and more.”

When stopped in the hall, FAMU President James Ammons verified SACS issue with the department.

“The qualification to teach at The School of Journalism and Graphic Communications is to have a master’s degree and 18 hours [of graduate journalism courses],” he said.  “Many faculty members do not meet those requirements.”

Ammons also said no decision has been made to dismiss any professors.       

When SACS visited the university over spring break, out of 77 compliance standards, the team had an issue with one. The issue was related to Standard 3.7.1, which requires qualified faculty members to work in the institution.

Keith Miles, general manager of WANM 90.5FM Radio, Ernest Jones, director for FAMU-TV20 and Ron James, a graphic professor, were offered the opportunity to remain in their administrative positions, but will not be allowed to teach.

According to James Hawkins, dean of the division of journalism, faculty members will have the opportunity to obtain a master’s degree over the next three years.

Professor Ron James, who has recently resigned, said he received a job offer from the state before the SACS issue surfaced.   

Georgia Dawkins, 21, president of FAMU’s National Association of Black Journalists, organized the protest.

However, Dawkins said even though no action has taken place, students cannot stop any action to discharge faculty members. 

“Although President Ammons has made no decisions, it is ultimately out of our hands,” said Dawkins, a third year broadcast journalism student from Sebring. 

Students like Marquaila Bradley, 21, said years of experience equals a master’s degree for anyone in the media business.

“We don’t want the university to take away our teachers,” said Bradley, a third year broadcast student from St. Petersburg.

Bradley said professors like William Jiles, who has more than 20 years of experience in the media industry, can not be replaced no matter how many degrees the next professor may have.

Dawkins said students are passionate about the situation at hand and their voices should be heard.

“Students feel neglected in this whole situation,” she said.

Ammons also said requirements by SACS set for the university must be met for financial aid purposes.

He said SACS has the power to take away any federal money that students in the program receive if professors do not meet requirements.